REOPEN RAMFIT FOR STUDENTS
REOPEN RAMFIT FOR STUDENTS
Why this petition matters
With the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 at peak prevalence in New York City, it was evident that Fordham University was going to implement new safety measures upon our return for the Spring 2022 semester. This being said, closing RamFit, Fordham’s health and fitness center, was an irrational decision that needs to be changed immediately. With the knowledge gained over the past two years concerning ways to return to relatively normal life while still maintaining defense against COVID-19, new steps should be taken to reopen RamFit in a safe and orderly fashion for students, rather than closing it altogether.
First, we all understand how severe COVID-19 was and still is today. It has shut down nations and caused millions to suffer illness and even death. However, the virus had a paralleled significance on mental health, specifically for college-aged students. A study taken at a large public university of 195 students on the effects of COVID-19 and the pandemic revealed staggering numbers: 71% of students saw an increase in stress and anxiety, 89% saw difficulty in concentrating, 86% saw a disruption in sleeping patterns, and 82% voiced concerns of academic performance due to COVID-19 (U.S National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health). The mental toll the pandemic has taken on college students is an undeniable issue that many students struggle to find effective coping mechanisms for. One option that has a positive impact on all of these issues is health and fitness. An additional study in the U.S National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health found that “aerobic exercises, including jogging, swimming, cycling…have been proved to reduce anxiety and depression. These improvements in mood are proposed to be caused by exercise-induced increase in blood circulation to the brain and by an influence on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and, thus, on the physiologic reactivity to stress” (Exercise for Mental Health). There is a clear correlation between exercising and reduced stress/anxiety. With the temperature getting colder by the day, performing these exercises outside rather than in an enclosed space will become increasingly difficult.
Along with the benefits that exercise has on students’ mental health, it also has clear physical benefits, not the least of which is strengthening the immune system. A study completed by Harvard Medical School has proven that “people who were consistently inactive had a significantly higher risk of hospitalization, ICU admission, and death after getting COVID-19.” By providing students with the opportunity to exercise in an on-campus facility – one in which the only other occupants are fully-vaccinated Fordham students – we will be increasing our bodies’ abilities to fight off COVID-19 should we, unfortunately, be infected.
The solution is one that Fordham has already successfully implemented in the past: reserved limited capacity. With a new 20,000 square foot health center that was scheduled to open upon the students’ return for the 2022 spring semester, it will be much easier to space out individuals and maintain proper social distancing along with face-coverings in this newly renovated facility than it was when this strategy was used in the smaller gym. How are we as a university going to allow for dining halls, in-person classes, Fordham clubs, and varsity athletics to continue operations, yet not give the majority of Fordham’s students the option to work out and promote a healthy lifestyle, both mentally and physically? With the IMLeagues app and the ability to create reservations in seconds, Fordham has the opportunity to allow students to use the new facility they helped fund in a safe and orderly fashion.
Fordham was founded on Cura Personalis or “care for the whole person.” It is time they review this phrase and rethink their decision to close a space dedicated to positively impacting Fordham students’ mental and physical health.